Canada’s Nicholas Bennett sets world Para swimming record in preliminaries
TORONTO – Canadian Maggie Mac Neil and American Shaine Casas put exclamation points on the second leg of the 2022 FINA Swimming World Cup Sunday evening with meet records in the women’s 100-metre butterfly and the men’s 100 backstroke.
The Olympic and world short-course champion in the 100 fly, Mac Neil triumphed in 54.78 seconds on the third and final night of competition at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre. She lowered her own Canadian record, and the previous World Cup standard of 54.84 set in 2018 by Kelsi Dahlia of the United States.
Later in the evening, Casas matched her exploit with a 44.84 swim in the 100 back, four hundredths faster than the time posted by China’s Jiayu Xu, also in 2018.
Another highlight came in the morning preliminaries of the men’s 200 free, when Tokyo Paralympian Nicholas Bennett of Parksville, B.C., swam faster than the S14 world record with a time of 1:51.40.
It marked the third victory of the weekend for Mac Neil, a 22-year-old from London, Ont., following first-place finishes in the 50 backstroke on Friday and the 50 butterfly on Day 2.
Sweden’s Louise Hansson, who Mac Neil edged for gold at last year’s short-course worlds, placed second in 55.02, followed by Giovanna Diamante of Brazil in 57.41.
Three-time Olympian Katerine Savard of Pont-Rouge, Que., was just off the podium in 57.68.
“I feel great. I always look to swim faster,” said Mac Neil, who also placed fifth in the 100 freestyle later in the evening. “I’m really happy with my 100 fly on the last day which was a challenge. At the Olympics and world championships, it was on the first day. It’s something I’m learning to manage. I’m really happy with that but there’s always room for improvement.
Canadian swimmers were pushed all weekend by a raucous local crowd at TPASC, with attendance over 1,700 on Saturday and Sunday nights.
“It’s incredible to have a crowd like that,” Mac Neil said. “We haven’t had crowds in a couple of years. It’s been great to have the support and hopefully we can inspire them.”
Casas, the reigning world short-course champion, cruised to victory in the men’s 100 back. Fellow American Coleman Stewart was second in 49.95, with Poland’s Kacper Stokowski rounding out the podium in 50.02.
Casas leaves Toronto with four first-place finishes and will go for the World Cup threepeat – worth US$10,000 – in the 100 and 200 back next weekend when the three-leg series concludes in Indianapolis (Nov. 3-5). The 22-year-old Californian had also won those two events a week ago in Berlin.
“Yes it’s great (to set a World Cup record). You can’t really be mad at first (place). Like I said yesterday, I just want to swim fast,” Casas said. “Good time, great racing, I showed up compared to last week so pretty excited about that. The time was a little bit off, but I have one more chance, we’ll see how next week goes.”
Thanks to their three best performances of the weekend, Mac Neil and Casas were declared the female and male winners of the Toronto leg with 58.5 points apiece based on the FINA points system. They each merited $12,000 in prize money.
Americans Beata Nelson ($10,000) and Katie Ledecky ($8,000) followed Mac Neil with 58.3 and 55.8 points.
American Nic Fink with 57.5 points and Dylan Carter of Trinidad and Tobago with 57.2 completed the men’s Top 3.
The men’s and women’s overall champions for the series are set to collect $100,000 apiece.
Nelson leads the women’s race with 115.6 points, followed by Siobhan Haughey of Hong Kong, China (112.9), Beryl Gastaldello of France (105.3) and Kylie Masse of LaSalle, Ont. (104.7). Mac Neil did not compete in Berlin.
Carter and Fink are tied for the men’s lead with 114.5 points each, followed by 2021 overall champion Matthew Sates of South Africa (111.0).
Nelson was a double winner on Day 3, while Fink, Carter, Haughey and Sates also posted victories.
Nelson took the women’s 200 back final in 2:00.50 to complete the 100-200 backstroke sweep for the second straight week. In Indy, she’ll have a shot at the World Cup series sweep in both events.
Masse (2:02.21) was second for the third time in as many backstroke finals this weekend, with fellow Canadian Summer McIntosh of Toronto placing third (2:02.85).
The 23-year-old Nelson went on to add a win in the final race of the meet, the women’s 200 individual medley, thanks to a time of 2:05.08. Canadians Sydney Pickrem (2:05.23), the world SC champion in event, and McIntosh (2:06.57) were second and third.
“I really wanted to push it tonight in this great field of ladies,” Nelson said. “I’m really happy with this one. We have another stop (in Indianapolis) so I was racing to be competitive and to enjoy this experience.”
Fink won the men’s 200 breaststroke in 2:03.78 to complete his second straight weekend sweep of the three breast events.
“I wasn’t feeling one hundred per cent, so I’m happy that I got a solid one under the belt,” said Fink, the world short-course champion in the 50 and 200. “Definitely happy with the results here and now it’s onto Indy. It’s going to be fun, not many major international meets swing by there. Hope the USA and Indy crowd brings it.”
After taking the men’s 50 fly title in 22.28 on Sunday, adding to his triumphs in the 50 free and 50 back earlier this weekend, Carter will have a shot at the triple crown in all three of those events next week.
“I’m stoked on that. It’s an honour to race some of the best in the world,” said the two-time Olympian. “I’ve never been in a position like that before so looking forward to challenging for that next week. One meet at a time, one race at a time.”
Sates cruised through a 4:02.65 win in the men’s 400 IM to add to his victory in the 400 free on Friday and four first-place finishes in Berlin. In Indianapolis, the 19-year-old will have a chance to complete the World Cup sweep in the 400 IM and 400 free.
Haughey (51.33) edged Gastaldello (51.67) to take the women’s 100 free title. The world short-course champion in both the 100 and 200 free, Haughey can threepeat in both distances next week.
Rounding out the list of Sunday winners were Lithuania’s Ruta Meilutyte in the women’s 50 breast (28.96), Egypt’s Marwan Elkamash in the men’s 800 free (7:45.09) and American Brooks Curry in the men’s 200 free (1:42.32).